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World Hunger and Food Security

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A lecture in Quantitative Sustainability

It is often claimed that agricultural productivity needs to be increased in order to feed a growing world population. Food security depends on several factors besides the productivity, including waste/efficiency, energy crops, meat consumption, and global justice and equity. This lecture explores the issue of food security in its many dimensions and teaches how to use a high-level systems approach in sustainability science.

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World Hunger and Food Security

  1. 1. World Hunger and Food Security Lecture Series in Quantitative Sustainability by Toni Menninger http://www.slideshare.net/amenning/
  2. 2. World Hunger and Food Security • About 18 Million people die each year from hunger, 10 million of them are children • 850 million are undernourished – 1 in 8 people worldwide • 2 billion suffer from micro nutrient deficiency • 1.2 billion are overfed • 1 in 5 US children affected by food insecurity
  3. 3. World Hunger and Food Security • 850 million are undernourished – 1 in 8 people worldwide Mongolia Congo 50% undernourished
  4. 4. World Hunger and Food Security Is there enough?
  5. 5. World Hunger and Food Security • The average person requires 2200 to 2400 dietary calories (kcal) per day. • Per capita food consumption in 2003: 2800 kcal, up from 2250 in 1961 (FAO). • Since the “Green Revolution”, food production has increased faster than world population. • Theoretically, even today there is enough food for 8 billion people. • Hunger is not caused by a global food shortage. It is caused by economic inequality – the poorest people can't afford an adequate diet.
  6. 6. • Per capita food consumption: 2800 kcal (FAO data for 2003), up from 2250 in 1961. • Since the Green Revolution” after WWII, food production has increased faster than world population. Increase appears to have slowed since 1990. Global Food consumption per capita Source: FAO 3000 2900 2800 kcal/capita/day 2700 2600 Grand Total Linear Regression for Grand Total 2500 2400 2300 2200 2100 2000 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005
  7. 7. • Since the post war “Green Revolution”, food production has increased faster than world population. Increase appears to have slowed since 1990. • However, cereal production per capita has peaked in 1985 and has since been in decline. Cereals total production and consumption per capita 400 350 300 kg/capita/year 250 Cereals total production per capita Cereals total consum ption Excluding Beer 200 150 100 50 0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005
  8. 8. World's largest grain producers, 2010 (FAOSTAT) 0 China United States of America India Indonesia Brazil France Russian Federation Bangladesh Argentina Canada Viet Nam Germany Ukraine Thailand Mexico Myanmar Pakistan Australia Turkey Poland Iran (Islamic Republic of) Philippines United Kingdom Nigeria Egypt Spain Italy Romania Ethiopia South Africa Hungary Kazakhstan Japan 100,000,000 200,000,000 300,000,000 400,000,000 500,000,000 600,000,000
  9. 9. Projected population growth to 9 billion by 2050 – almost 80 million new eaters every year how to feed the world sustainably? → Food security requires population stabilization and/or increase in the amount of food available and/or more equitable distribution/access! Food consumption per capita Source: FAO 3000 2900 2800 kcal/capita/day 2700 Grand Total Linear Regression for Grand Total 2600 2500 2400 2300 2200 2100 2000 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005
  10. 10. Projected population growth to 9 billion by 2050 – almost 80 million new eaters every year - how to feed the world sustainably? → Food security requires population stabilization and/or increase in the amount of food available and/or more equal distribution/access! Brainstorming question: Group work How can the amount of food energy available to humans be increased? What possible approaches do you see? Think in terms of the whole system – try to adopt a Systems Perspective!
  11. 11. Factors determining food supply • Area under cultivation • Land productivity (yield per acre) • Availability for human consumption • Post-harvest losses and waste
  12. 12. Factors determining food supply Area under cultivation → Protect arable land from erosion, degradation, desertification, urban development → Climate Change: some marginal areas may become available for cultivation but some prime crop areas are threatened → Expanding agricultural area in many countries not possible or only at high environmental cost → Tropical rainforest soils not suitable for intensive agriculture → Some marginal areas can be made productive if carefully managed – avoid overgrazing → Increasing importance of Urban Gardening
  13. 13. Factors determining food supply Area under cultivation: slight decline since 1970s Total harvested area for selected crops (source: FAO) 800000000 Cereals total 700000000 600000000 Ha 500000000 Maize Rice Soybeans Wheat Cereals,Total 400000000 Wheat Rice Corn Soybeans 300000000 200000000 100000000 0 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
  14. 14. Factors determining food supply Productivity (yield per acre) Thanks to the Green Revolution, global food production since 1960 has more than kept up with population growth. How was this achieved, and at what price? → Green Revolution yield gains through: • Synthetic fertilizer • Chemical pesticides • Irrigation • High performance crop varieties (hybrid, genetic engineering) • Capital and energy intensive, dependence of farmers from agribusiness; is it sustainable?
  15. 15. Factors determining food supply Productivity (yield per acre): → Green Revolution yield gains through: • Synthetic fertilizer • Pesticides • Irrigation • High performance crop varieties (hybrid, genetic engineering) • Capital and energy intensive, dependence of farmers from agribusiness; is it sustainable? → Yield gains through alternative approaches? • Permaculture, locally adapted varieties, diversification instead of monoculture • Higher labor input required
  16. 16. Recommended reading: National Geographic Special Report: The Global Food Crisis
  17. 17. Productivity (yield per acre) Green Revolution yield gains through: • Synthetic fertilizer → Compare grain production and fertilizer use – which has grown faster? Is it sustainable?
  18. 18. Productivity (yield per acre) → Green Revolution yield gains through: • Irrigation – is it sustainable?
  19. 19. Productivity (yield per acre) → Green Revolution yield gains through: • Irrigation The map shows ground water changes in India during 2002-08, with losses in red and gains in blue, based on GRACE satellite observations. The estimated rate of groundwater table decline in northwestern India is 33 centimeters per year. Increases in groundwater in southern India are due to recent above-average rainfall, whereas rain in northwestern India was close to normal during the study period. Credit: I. Velicogna/UC Irvine (source: UC Irvine)
  20. 20. Productivity (yield per acre) → Green Revolution yield gains through: • Irrigation http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cf m?id=is-india-running-out-of-water http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/i ndia_water.html "If measures are not soon taken to ensure sustainable ground water usage, consequences for the 114 million residents of the region may include a collapse of agricultural output, severe shortages of potable water, conflict and suffering," says Matt Rodell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. 1 foot ground water decline per year
  21. 21. Productivity (yield per acre) → Green Revolution yield gains through: • High performance crop varieties (hybrid, genetic engineering) • Decline in the variety of food crops because a handful of high performance varieties dominate the seed market • Tendency to monoculture and industrial farming • Commercial varieties often not adapted to local conditions in developing countries (especially Africa) and to the needs of small subsistence farmers • Hybrid and patented GM varieties are expensive and farmers are prevented from reseeding their own seed
  22. 22. Decline in the variety of food crops http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/food-ark/siebert-text http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/food-ark/potato-variety
  23. 23. Productivity (yield per acre) → Green Revolution yield gains through: • High performance crop varieties (hybrid, genetic engineering) → Yield gains through alternative approaches? • Permaculture, locally adapted varieties, diversification instead of monoculture • Higher labor input required
  24. 24. Productivity (yield per acre) → Green Revolution yield gains: consistent linear trend Crop yields 1961-2007 Source: FAO (http://faostat.fao.org/site/567/default.aspx) R² = 0.96 50000 R² = 0.98 40000 R² = 0.99 R² = 0.97 in Hg/Ha 30000 R² = 0.96 Maize Linear Regression for Maize Rice Linear Regression for Rice Soybeans Linear Regression for Soybeans Wheat Linear Regression for Wheat Cereals,Total Linear Regression for Cereals,Total 20000 10000 0 1960 1970 1Hectogram (Hg) = 100 gram 1980 1990 2000 2010
  25. 25. Productivity (yield per acre) → Green Revolution yield gains: consistent linear trend implies decline in fractional growth rate (Source: Science, Sept 25, 2009)
  26. 26. Factors determining food supply Availability for human consumption → Competition for harvested food between humans, livestock, cars (biofuels), and pests (rats) → Also, some agricultural production not edible: coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, flowers ...(cash crop) → In many poor countries, a large share of agricultural production consists in cash crops for export. These countries lose the ability to grow their own food and become dependent on commodity prices on the world market. Their agriculture is often dominated by large corporate plantations and lacks diversity.
  27. 27. Factors determining food supply Availability for human consumption → Competition for harvested food between humans and livestock
  28. 28. Factors determining food supply Availability for human consumption → Competition for harvested food between humans and cars (biofuels) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19206199 http://www.leopoldina.org/en/press/news/leopoldina-critical-towards-use-of-bioenergy/ The Hunger Games/
  29. 29. Factors determining food supply Availability for human consumption → Competition for harvested food between humans, livestock, and cars (biofuels) http://www.tnfeedandgrain.org/2012/08/31/drought-ignites-battle-over-corn-supplies-u-sbiofuel-mandate-pits-ethanol-refineries-against-meat-producers/
  30. 30. Factors determining food supply Post-harvest losses and waste
  31. 31. Factors determining food supply Post-harvest losses (waste) Why so much waste? • In affluent countries: Food is cheap • In developing countries: Infrastructure for harvest storage, distribution, protection from pests often lacking • Conservation principle: Reducing waste is much cheaper than increasing production!
  32. 32. Factors determining food supply Post-harvest losses (waste): Reducing waste is much cheaper than increasing production! http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/report-finds-americanswasteful-of-food/ http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0007940 http://www.nrdc.org/food/wasted-food.asp
  33. 33. Factors affecting food security • Population growth • Arable land area • Agricultural Productivity • Diversion of agricultural resources to non-food crops, livestock feed, and biofuels • Post-harvest losses and waste • Global justice and equitable access Systems perspective: What strategies for improving food security do you recommend?

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